DAILY NEWS: Foreign Oscar Hopefuls; New This Week; "Fat Girl" Banned
by Anthony Kaufman/indieWIRE
>> Foreign Language Films Vie for Oscar
(indieWIRE/11.21.01) — Fifty-one countries will compete for the five
coveted spots in the category of Best Foreign Language film of 2001,
according to an announcement released by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts
and Sciences AMPAS). The largest number of films ever entered for
consideration, up five from last year’s 46, this year’s selection includes
entries from Armenia (“Slogans“), Kyrgyzstan (“The Chimp“), Tanzania
(“Maangamizi“) and Uruguay (“In This Tricky Life“) for the first time.
Top contenders in the list of 51 include: “Dark Blue World” (Czech Republic)
from Jan Sverak, winner of the foreign language Oscar in 1997 for “Kolya,” renowned director Barbet Schroeder‘s “Our Lady Of The Assassins” (Columbia), Michael Haneke‘s Cannes acting prizewinner “The Piano Teacher” (Austria), Zacharias Kunuk‘s Cannes Camera d’Or champ “Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner” (Canada), and Danis Tanovic‘s festival favorite “No Man’s Land” (the second movie from Bosnia & Herzegovina to be submitted to the category). Also in the mix are four films likely to reap the benefits of a Miramax marketing push, Jean-Pierre Jeunet‘s “Amelie” (France), Lone Scherfig‘s “Italian For Beginners” (Denmark), Nanni Moretti‘s “The Son’s Room” (Italy) and Majid Majidi‘s “Baran” (Iran).
A couple of acclaimed foreign Oscar hopefuls coming to theaters in 2002 were
surprisingly overlooked: Mexico chose Maryse Sistach‘s “Violet Perfume” over Alfonso Cuaron‘s fall film festival favorite “Y Tu Mama Tambien” (an IFC Films release) and India picked Ashutosh Gowariker‘s “Lagaan” over Mira Nair‘s Venice Golden Lion winner “Monsoon Wedding” (USA Films).
Selected films do not necessarily need to have been released in the U.S. and
are chosen by juries from each country. The Foreign Language Film Award
Committee will screen all entries, beginning November 28, before voting to
nominate five, according to Awards Coordinator Patrick Stockstill.
Nominations will be announced at the Academy on Tuesday, February 12, 2002.
Complete list of Foreign Language Film submissions:
>> NEW THIS WEEK: Turkey Weekend Indie Hybrids: “Bedroom,” “Backbone” and “Sidewalks”
(indieWIRE/11.21.01) — This Thanksgiving weekend, there’s no better film to
bring your family to than Todd Field‘s “In the Bedroom.” At first, the folks
might give you grief: Grandma might not want a “serious” movie; your uncle
may prefer “Spy Game.” But after that “Harry Potter” matinee and the tykes
have been tucked in, do your best to convince the relatives that “In the
Bedroom” is the film to see. Afterwards, they might be disturbed, but they
won’t be disappointed.
Probably the most solid first film to emerge from Sundance‘s Dramatic
Competition in the last 5 years, “In the Bedroom” paints a finely hued
psychological portrait of a New England family. The entire cast delivers
first-rate performances and the film’s story is a stunner. At Sundance 2001,
indieWIRE’s critic Patrick Z. McGavin wrote, “Todd Field has fashioned an
invigorating and at times emotionally shattering debut feature. Field
clearly has an affinity for actors but he also brings a perceptive balance
and fluid grasp of the material.” Read the complete review at indieWIRE.com
and our interview with Field in today’s indieWIRE, where he talks about the
film’s sale to Miramax and his work with the actors.
While we know some readers might wonder why we’re going to bat for a Miramax
movie, just remember: a year ago the producers of “In the Bedroom” were
waiting to hear if they would get into Sundance just like any other indie
filmmaker. The distributor might not be independent, but the movie is.
While Guillermo del Toro‘s “The Devil’s Backbone,” opening today, comes from Sony Pictures Classics, it also feels like some hybrid between an
independent and a studio picture. At Toronto 2001, this writer declared the
movie to be “a glossy, accessible horror-thriller that seems almost too big
to fit the shoes of a specialized company….If ‘Backbone’ had Nicole Kidman
(e.g. Alejandro Amenabar‘s ‘The Others‘) and were in English, it probably
would have fallen into the hands of a larger studio. No matter, del Toro’s
return to Spanish language cinema, produced in part by Pedro Almodovar‘s
company El Deseo, is a spine-tingling, well-conceived drama about a ghost
lurking in a makeshift orphanage during the Spanish Civil War. Look for our
interview with del Toro in next week’s indieWIRE.
And then there’s Ed Burns. If ever there was a director who blurred
independent and Hollywood boundaries, it’s Mr. Burns. Paramount Classics
releases his latest film “Sidewalks of New York” today, a pat relationship
roundelay, starring himself (of course), Heather Graham, David Krumholtz,
Brittany Murphy, Rosario Dawson, and Stanley Tucci. Originally set for release in September, “Sidewalks” was one of many pictures that ran scared
after the terrorist attacks. While the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center
still appear in the film, so, too, unfortunately does Burn’s vacuousness.
Foreign indies, tried and true, will also see screen-time this week. On
Friday, First Look Pictures unveils “Bangkok Dangerous” in New York and
L.A., an arty thriller from Thailand’s first-time directing twin-brother
team, Oxide and Danny Pang. Winner of the FIPRESCI critics prize at Toronto 2000, the film follows the exploits of a deaf-mute hit man and his partner
in crime as they commit murder amidst Bangkok’s underworld, that is, until
true love offers the young killer salvation.
Notably, “Dangerous” comes from up-and-coming Thai production company, Film
Bangkok, the same one responsible for that other Thai breakthrough, the
kitschy western “Tears of the Black Tiger” from director Wisit Sasanatieng
(a movie remains without a release date from Miramax). Also in the company’s
slate, historical war blockbuster “Bang Rajan,” which premiered at Toronto
2001, and gangster teen picture “Goal Club.” Offering Hong Kong a run for
their money, Film Bangkok’s library gives hope to a budding Thai film
Italian writer-director Gianni Amelio, known for his popular 1994 film
“Lamerica,” is one of the big hopes of Italy’s own film renaissance. His
latest, “The Way We Laughed,” which opens today at New York’s Film Forum from New Yorker Films, won the Golden Lion at the 1998 Venice Film Festival. Taking place from 1958 to 1964, the story follows two Sicilian brothers
living in Turin and the economic changes they faced during the post-war period.
Another Italian production, “Jung: in the Land of the Mujaheddin,” by the
Italian directing team of Fabrizio Lazzaretti, Giuseppe Petitto and Alberto Vendemmiati, looks away from their homeland and towards the economic
struggles and general hardships of life in northern Afghanistan. Made
topical by current events, the award-winning documentary (which received
Human Rights Watch‘s Nestor Almendros Prize for courage and commitment in human rights filmmaking) will play at New York’s Cinema Village theater on Friday through Karousel Films. Direct from Kabul (and Rome), the filmmakers spoke to us about their work, shooting digital, editing 160 hours of
footage, and evading landmines; the interview will appear in indieWIRE next
A final note about this column: After last’s week edition (wherein we
trashed “The Fluffer,” “Novocaine,” and “The Wash“), indieWIRE received some disapproving comments about lacking objectivity and relying on a Variety review to state our opinion. For the record, New This Week relies on this
writer’s viewpoint first, and other regular indieWIRE contributors second —
a subjective process through and through. If we have not seen a particular
film, we will look to other publications whose reviews we respect and who
have a considerable amount of power in terms of establishing a film’s
reception, like Variety or The New York Times. If we ever thought that Todd
McCarthy or Elvis Mitchell were off base, don’t worry: we’d make that clear.
>> “Fat Girl” Loses Appeal in Ontario
(indieWIRE/11.21.01) — It’s official: Catherine Breillat‘s “Fat Girl,”
currently playing in the U.S., has been effectively banned in Ontario, after
losing its final appeal to the Ontario Film Review Board. On Tuesday,
distributors Cowboy Pictures and Lions Gate Films issued a press release,
stating that the review board had made its final judgment in a 3-2 ruling
against the film.
Several notable Canadians have come to the film’s defense. Director David
Cronenberg, according to the release, accused the Board of applying its
rules “mechanically and to the letter” and that the effect of their decision
would “prevent any profound cinematic discussion of an entire field of human
experience,” and Toronto Film Festival Director Piers Handling asked the
board to “allow our community to make their own decision about this film.”
For more on the case, see indieWIRE’s November 14 report